The Holding is about a guy who wants to be a good man, but is just too damn crazy. The tension is in waiting to find out just what kind of crazy and how much.
A holding, I have discovered, is not when somebody grabs your arms for someone else to steal your wallet, but a small piece of legally owned land.
In this case, it’s a little farm owned by single mother of two Cassie Naylor. She’s struggling for money, and is under pressure to sell her holding to the creepy weirdo who owns the next one over. Meanwhile, random drifter Aden arrives claiming to be a friend of Cassie’s dead husband, and he talks his way into a meal. Then a room. Then a job. You can see where this is going.
All of our main characters are morally dubious, and the film sets this out from moment one as Cassie buries her husband alive during the opening credits. Creepy neighbour Karsten is not above killing animals to make his point (that point being: go away), and perfectly lovely-seeming Aden is destined to be an absolute lunatic, solely because he’s perfectly lovely-seeming.
The film does a good job of keeping you just a little unsure as to where it’s heading, and who will kill who, or if it will turn out to be a stealthy sequel to The Thing and nobody is who they seem. All the characters are grounded in reality and are pretty consistent in their actions. Aden’s manipulation of everyone is subtle, almost lulling you into thinking that maybe everyone’s going to settle down, and the film will turn out to be about the financial burden of modern small-scale farming.
This is all interesting enough, but we’re here waiting for the crazy. Sadly, when it does all kick off, there are no surprises to be had. Everyone is a bit mad, but Aden is the maddest of them all, in contrast to his earlier, more realistic machinations. When he clicks into “I am the head of this family mode”, you can make some pretty solid assumptions on how the whole thing is going to pan out, and that it’s going to involve some violence.
That said, it’s well handled. We’ve spent enough time with Cassie and her daughters to care whether they live or die, which is always nice, and the chasing and screaming when it happens is engaging. The dilemmas brought up early on about whether killing bad people is justified aren’t really mentioned very much again.
Overall though, I’m struggling to find too much to say about The Holding. It’s decent, but inconsequential. It’s worth watching if it’s on somewhere, but I wouldn’t seek it out. Competent is a bit of a backhanded compliment, but I’ve had a look in the bag and that’s all I have to hand out.